A L L  T H E  L O C A L  N E W S,  G O S S I P,  R E C I P E S  &  L O R E  T H A T' S  F I T  T O   P R I N T

H O L I D A Y   2 0 0 9

“Gifts of time and love are surely the best ingredients of a truly Merry Christmas.”
--- Peg Bracken

Pomegranate Spritzers
“At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well,
and talk well but not too wisely.” --- William Somerset Maugham

In Wickwood's Kitchen ...


Toast The Holidays with this crimson drink. So simple and festive. Serves 8

1 cup 100% pomegranate juice or cranberry juice, chilled
1 750 ml (about 3 cups) dry white wine, chilled
24 whole cranberries
Ice cubes and a dash of club soda (optional)

Fresh Cranberries

1. Add 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice to 8 balloon wine glasses or small tumblers. Pour wine into each glass. Garnish each with 3 cranberries.

Note: For sparkling spritzers, substitute chilled champagne for the dry white wine. For a non-alcoholic version, substitute ginger ale or sparkling water.

Always the first to disappear at hors d’oeuvres time, these are embarrassingly simple to make. Classic, but too often forgotten, in the quest for the trendy. Please read the method first, so you know quantities.

Best quality thin sliced bacon
Pitted dates
Dried and pitted figs
Dried and pitted prunes
Dried apricots
Pitted green olives
Shrimp and/or scallops, cleaned
Chicken livers, trimmed and rinsed
Water chestnuts, drained and halved
¼ cup Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Light brown sugar

Marinated Artichokes

1. Cut bacon lengthwise. Stuff each date, fig, prune or apricot with half a large green olive, or a whole small one. Wrap with a strip of bacon and secure with a wooden toothpick
2. Cut shrimp and scallops to bite sized pieces, wrap with bacon strip, secure with toothpick.
3. Cut chicken livers into ½ inch pieces. Place soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl and marinate livers in it for an hour. Wrap a piece of liver and one of water chestnuts with a piece of bacon, secure with a toothpick..
4. Broil Bacon Wrap-Arounds on rack of broiler, 2 inches from heat, turning once until bacon is crisp, 5-6 minutes. Cut into to see that livers and shrimp are cooked. Serve and watch disappear quickly.

We look for reasons to serve smoked salmon in as many ways as we can think of during The Holidays. This tapenade just gives it a pizzaz that dazzles. We spread warm crostini with cream cheese, top with the Artichoke Tapenade and then a sliver of smoked salmon setoff with a sprig of dill. Make plenty. Tapenade yield: 1 ½ cups

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup green olives, pitted
1 tablespoon capers
1 jar (12 ounces) marinated artichokes, drained
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
sea salt to taste

Marinated Artichokes

1. Place all of the ingredients, except the salt, in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add salt to taste.

This is surprisingly good for something so simple!

2 cups Vidalia Onions
1 cup Parmesan Cheese (yes, the stuff in the green container, can't believe it)
1 cup Swiss or Mozzarella
1½  cups Mayonnaise (Hellman's)

Vidalia Onions

1. Mix all ingredients together in 8x8 baking dish. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes. Serve with crackers or crostini.

“There is only one fruitcake in the world, and it keeps getting sent on from year to year.” --- Calvin Trillin

A year-round favorite at Wickwood, especially festive during the Holidays. Made with two favorites from the sea, the trick is a very gentle touch to coax the flavor from the seafood and retain it’s fresh flavor. Raves will be yours. Yield 64.

¾ pound unsalted butter (3 sticks)
1 pound cooked, cleaned and peeled shrimp, best quality. (26-30 per pound, tails removed), quartered
1 pound cooked crab meat. Best quality, only
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (3 tablespoons)
24 scallions, green part only, chopped (2 cups)
64 slices of French/Italian Baguette, toasted

Shrimp and Crab Crostini

Shrimp and Crab Crostini

1. In a medium (10”) non-stick skillet, melt 1 stick butter until just melted and still bubbling, over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp pieces and place in a medium sized bowl. (Use the butter for another appropriate purpose)
2. Melt the second stick of butter, again until just melted, add the crab meat and cayenne and heat for 1/1/2 minutes to coat crab with butter. Add to shrimp.
3. Melt the third stick of butter and add the garlic and green onions. Cook for 2 minutes to take away the “raw” taste, only. Add to shrimp and crab and mix gently.
4. Serve warm atop toasted crostini as a first course, or as finger food. Garnish with chopped chives, if desired. If not serving immediately, refrigerate and gently heat before serving, very quickly in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. You are just taking the chill off the seafood, not cooking further.

Note: We also love this as a pasta sauce with slivered arugula added.

We’re quite taken with Benton’s Smoky Mountain Bacon from Madisonville, Tennessee and absolutely love the magic it lends. This can serve as a quick Holiday dinner for your family or is festive enough for guests. When there are so few ingredients, the quality of each is very important. Serves 4-6.

½ pound best quality bacon or specks, cut into ½ inch slices
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shelled fresh or frozen pea
2 cups heavy cream, best quality
1 pound good-quality spaghetti (dry or fresh)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


1. In a medium sized skillet, fry the bacon until crispy. Drain the bacon and reserve the fat for another purpose. Return the bacon to the pan. Add the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cream and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and reduce the cream by half, about 10-12 minutes.
2. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water (using the kosher salt) to a boil. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Just before the pasta is al dente, remove ½ cup pasta water. Drain the pasta, return it to it’s pan, and add the sauce, plus 1/4 cup of pasta water. Stir to thoroughly coat the pasta with the sauce, cooking for 2 minutes more. Add remaining water, if necessary.
3. Serve immediately passing the Parmgiano and additional freshly ground black pepper.

We have loved Panna Cotta (Italian for cold cream) during the Holidays for many years and think that it’s the perfect light dessert to serve. And in Summer, it’s heavenly. Great with mixed berries atop, perhaps with a little Grand Marnier, or with a drizzle of the darkest of Fudge Sauces. Devastatingly delicious! We’ve even made it with half heavy cream and half coconut milk topping it off with toasted coconut. You’ll adore having this in your repertoire.

4 cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, split)
2 packets gelatin( about 4 ½ teaspoons)
6 tablespoons cold water


1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract (or if using a bean, scrape the seeds into the pot , add the pod and infuse for 30 minutes. Remove pod and re-warm cream continuing)
2. Lightly oil eight custard cups with canola or grape seed oil
3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium sized bowl and let stand 5-10 minutes.
4. Pour the very warm cream over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
5. Divide the Panna Cotta into the cups and chill until firm, at least 4 hours.
6. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and invert onto a serving plate.Enjoy cool and simple or top with mixed berries, shaved dark chocolate, maple syrup, a drizzle of honey, warm sautéed apples, Kaluha, Calvados, Grand Marnier, etc.

We love getting everyone into the act to cook at Christmastime. These are great fun to make as you all work together trimming the tree, secretly wrapping gifts, yet taking breaks together, or checking off the Christmas card list. They’re casual, yet most delicious!! Serves 6.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
½ cup plus
1 tablespoon whole milk
3 large Honey Crisp, Gala, or Fuji apples
Canola oil for deep-frying
Powdered sugar for dusting


1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Lightly beat the egg and milk in a small bowl. Whisk into the flour until combined.. This batter can be made and refrigerated for up to three hours.
2. Peel and core the apples. Cut them into 2-inch long, ½ inch matchsticks. Fold into the batter.
3. Heat 1½ inches of oil to 325° F in a wide deep pot. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Using two forks, lift up 5 or 6 of the matchsticks from the batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl. The fritters should be irregular in shape, with just a light coating of batter. Add to the oil watching that the oil temperature remains no higher than 340° F. Add a few more fritters to the pot without crowding and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the cooling rack and continue frying in batches. Sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar and serve while warm.

Spiced Cranberry Chutney
“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar every month.” --- Harlan Miller

Even if you’ve never been fond of cranberries, you’ll love this one!

1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup tart dried cherries
1¼ cups sugar
¾ cups cider vinegar
½ cup shopped celery
¼ cup minced fresh ginger or ½ cup crystallized ginger
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1. Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe two quart bowl, and stir well.
2. Cook, uncovered, at full power (650-700 watts) for 6 minutes. Stir, making sure the sugar has dissolved, and return to cook another 8 minutes. 3. Allow to cool to room temperature; then serve or cover tightly and refrigerate. It will keep for 2 weeks.

Cornbread Stuffing
“I don’t like the turkey, but I like the bread he ate.”
--- A three year old

This has become a tradition for many family’s Holiday Dinners since 1977 when we first made it in our shop in NYC. It's classic. For a 20 pound turkey, serving 12 people, use:

3 cups of crumbled cornbread (homemade, or with Jiffy Mix)
3 cups whole-grain bread
3 cups French bread
2 sticks butter, melted
3 cups onions, chopped
4 tart apples chunked with peel
2 pounds spicy bulk sausage, browned
1 tablespoon each, fresh thyme and sage
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
2 cups pecan halves
● Armagnac or Grand Marnier, you judge

Cool before completely stuffing the bird. Refrigerate. Or, place in casserole, cover and bake 45 minutes at 350° F. Remove cover for another 15-20 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse

This is indulgence at its finest!!! So rich, a little satisfies immensely, especially when offset with a dollop of slightly tart whipped cream.

1½ pounds semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup prepared espresso coffee
½ cup Grand Marnier
4 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup granulated sugar
8 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Melt chocolate chips in a heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring; add espresso coffee, then stir in Grand Marnier. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
3. Whip 1 cup of the cream until thickened, and then gradually beat in sugar, beating until stiff. Beat egg whites with salt until stiff. Gently fold egg whites into cream.
4. Stir about one third of cream and egg mixture thoroughly into chocolate mixture. Add remaining cream and egg mixture into lightened chocolate base and fold together gently. Pour into one serving bowl or 8 individual dessert serving glasses. Refrigerate for 2 hours until set.
5. Whip remaining cup of cream until thickened, add vanilla and whip into soft peaks. Gently fold in the sour cream ,cover and refrigerate until serving.
6. At serving time, top each portion of mousse with a dollop of the whipped cream and a light sprinkling of chocolate chips, candied rosebuds, or chocolate curls or shavings. Serves 8

Turkey Gravy

I love to be a guest! No one is more appreciative of the effort it takes to entertain than I. But there is one thing that bothers me and, it is not being served HOT food. It's my pet peeve.

There’s no time that it bothers me more than Thanksgiving Dinner. We all know that it’s one of the trickiest dinners to pull together and serve hot, not the least is getting everyone to the table together. To me, the defining elements are hot turkey and hot and fabulous gravy!! The worst was always my mother-in-law’s Thanksgiving Dinner, bless her heart. The entire family used to laugh at my frustration, as she wouldn’t let me help in any way. This was her show! And, so we would contend with turkey that was ice cold from resting forever and absolutely white gravy! To avoid the annual disappointment, we always cooked our own Thanksgiving Turkey Wednesday so that we were satiated and had leftovers when we finally returned home. Never-the-less, if you’re unpracticed in making good, rich gravy just rehearse several times with a roast chicken before your Holiday Dinner. Never have an Opening Night without Previews.

Roasting a bird in a roasting pan (not foil) and basting it for a long time generally results in a nice collection of browned bits in the pan, the basis for good gravy. Before you’ve removed the turkey from the roasting pan to rest, have ready one cup of flour blended into one cup of softened butter until smooth (with more at hand) and at least three cups of good chicken broth, warmed; heavy cream; salt and black pepper and a whisk.

Go to work right away, while others carve the turkey (letting it rest 15 minutes, no more) and get the other dishes (covered) and guests to the table to await the bird and the gravy. Place the roasting pan on the top of one or two burners, add one cup of broth and scrape every last smidgen of goodness from the bottom of the pan (deglazing). If the juices are too fatty, defat them using your favorite method ... by skimming, paper towel, gadget, or cup.

There's no time to chill. Add two more cups of broth, whisking constantly over medium high heat, and add the thickening (flour and butter) in thirds whisking rapidly to prevent lumps. The butter will melt and it should blend the flour and broth evenly. Then it’s simply adding broth, stirring, seasoning, and additional butter/flour until the desired consistency and flavor is achieved. Then, I always add a dash of heavy cream to round off the flavors.

We like our gravy a medium dark that tastes rich, but not too browned. It takes practice, but is well worth the effort as good gravy pulls together a meal. This is memorable.



Wickwood Inn   |    510 Butler Street P.O. Box 1019   |   Saugatuck, MI 49453
Tel (800) 385-1174   |   
www.wickwoodinn.com    |    Bill and Julee Rosso Miller, Proprietors